PATRIOT MOSES CAVETT

   

 



A Biography of Moses Cavett

 

Moses Cavett (1742-1801)

 

 

Moses Cavett was born in Paxtang Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1742, married Nancy Agnes Meetch and had nine children. After marriage, the family began to move southwest to Virginia, North Carolina and finally Tennessee. In 1768, he was granted a hemp certificate (for rope making) by the Augusta County, Virginia Court. In 1772, Moses was one of the signers of the “Articles of the Wataugh Association” which was the first written constitution adopted by a community of American free born men. During 1789, he purchased an iron mine and established an ironworks business.

In 1780, Moses was one of the “overmountain men” who assembled at Sycamore Shoals (now called Elizabethton, Tennessee) and marched to Kings Mountain, South Carolina under leadership of Colonel Isaac Shelby. On October 7, 1780, he participated with 1400 other patriots in the Battle of Kings Mountain, which defeated British Maj. Patrick Ferguson's numerically superior Tory forces in a decisive battle. Later Thomas Jefferson said that this battle was the turning point in American's war for independence, as it eliminated Lord Cornwallis' left wing, forcing withdrawal of the Loyalists troops from Charlotte, North Carolina to await reinforcements in South Carolina.

He lived his last days on the family property in Knoxville, Tennessee, dying there in 1801. This property was once owned by his brother, Alexander Cavett and on which Cavett Station (blockhouse) had been built. Unfortunately, on September 25, 1793, this blockhouse was attacked by 1000 Cherokee and Creek Indians and Alexander and his entire family were all brutally murdered.

 

 

Moses Cavett, an American Patriot*

 

Moses Cavett (1742-1801) was a patriot of the American Revolution, having distinguished himself in several battles with the British and the Indians, fighting in the Battle at Kings Mountain , South Carolina on October 7, 1780 and serving as a Captain under Colonel Isaac Shelby's command.

Moses was born in Paxtang (Paxton) Township in Lancaster County , Pennsylvania in 1742 to Richard and Elizabeth Whitley Cavett. This Richard Cavett (1715-1789) was the son of an earlier Moses Cavett, who was born in 1684 in Scotland and who immigrated to Ulster County , Ireland in 1738. Richard was one of seven Cavett brothers who all came to this country between the years of 1725 and 1750.

Moses Cavett married Agnes Nancy Meetch in 1764 in Lancaster County (which stretched all the way to present day Pittsburg ). Shortly thereafter, Moses and three of his brothers (Alexander, Michael and Richard) left Pennsylvania for southern and southwestern Virginia . These four brothers moved and lived in Virginia , North Carolina , Tennessee and in the case of Richard Alabama. Of course, at that time none of these were states, and only Virginia and North Carolina were British Colonies; Tennessee was a part of North Carolona and Alabama was Indian land.

In 1765, Moses purchased 115 acres of land in Augusta County, Virginia for 35 pounds and settled there briefly and in 1768 he was granted a hemp certificate by the county (hemp was a lucrative rope-making crop). But, by 1774, Moses had move on southwest to the settlement of Watauga , North Carolina and was one of the 453 men who signed the Articles of Confederation (along with his brother, Alexander). These Articles bound the settlers together for mutual defense and negotiation with the surrounding Cherokees, being signed under a Sycamore tree in Elizabethton , North Carolina (now Tennessee , as it became a state in 1796).

Moses, along with Alexander, entered the military service (as reveal by payroll records) in fall of 1776, to serve in Captain David Looney's Company of Militia on the Frontier of Fincastle. In 1777, Moses and Alexander were among the “North of Holston Men” who petitioned the Virginia House of Delegates to move the Washington County courthouse to a more central location.

Then in the fall of 1780, Moses' military service took him into the Battle of Kings Mountain, as validated by his son, Richard Cavett, in a sworn petition he made in Madison County, Alabama in 1834, as he was seeking a military pension. Richard Cavett swore that “Presently after my birth I was removed with my father's family into the region then unsettled called Sullivan County , comprising probably all of North Carolina between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River . There my father went as a pioneer. His name was Moses Cavett . He maintained his post in the remote settlement and amidst hostile savages until his death. He was a Captain under Colonel Isaac Shelby and fought under him at Kings Mountain in the fall of 1780.”

On 25 September 1780, about 1000 “overmountain men” assembled at Sycamore Shoals, now called Elizabethton , Tennessee , under Colonel John Sevier and Colonel Isaac Shelby. On 26 September, this militia force badly beat a numerically superior British force commanded by Lt. Colonel Patrick Ferguson in a battle on Kings Mountain that lasted on one hour and five minutes. Thomas Jefferson later said that this battle was “the turning point in the south” in America 's war for independence. The victory of the Loyalists over the British troops destroyed the left wing of General Cornwallis' army and this ended the British advance into North Carolina , forcing him to retreat into South Carolina to wait for reinforcements.

After the Battle of Kings Mountain, Moses begun to acquire parcels of land in Sullivan County, Tennessee near Kingsport and the Holston River , where he finally established in 1789 an ironworks and attendant iron mine. He continued to operate the ironworks until 1795 when he sold it and 585 acres of land on the south fork of the Holston River .

In 1790, Moses' brother Alexander purchased 640 acres of land on Sinking Creek, in what latter became Knox County , Tennessee . It was here that he established a log fort called Cavett Station (or Blockhouse) and moved his family to into this relatively secure place, allowing travelers to stay there, as well. Unfortunately, Cavett Station and its occupants became victims of a most tragic and accidental of fate.

In September 1993, about 1000 Creek and Cherokee Indians, under the leadership of John Watts and Double Head and another Indian called Pumpkin Boy, approached Knoxville with the idea of attacking the Fort there the next morning. The next morning, 25 September, the Indians were startled when a canon was fired at the Fort at sunrise, as was their usual practice. Thinking that they had been discovered, the Indians left and while searching for another target to attack came upon Cavett Station, some eight miles west of the Knoxville Fort. That day, Alexander Cavett, brother of Moses , and two other militiamen were there, along with Alexander's family (his wife and ten of his eleven children). The Indians, after negotiating a surrender agreement, violated that agreement and put to death all of the occupants, mutilating and abusing the bodies of the women and children. One child may have survived the attack and there are differing stories as to how he escaped death. Alexander was later found, barbarously murdered in the garden, and it was discovered that he had four rifle balls in his mouth, put there by himself for the purposes of rapidly loading his rifle.

In October 1993, the Sullivan County Militia, including Alexander's brother Richard, mustered about 1300 men and set out in pursuit of Double Head and his band of Indians. The Indians were routed and their towns burned. It was found that the Spaniards had furnished power and balls to the Indians for their attack on Cavett Station. Regardless, Richard Cavett had participated in the military expedition and battle to avenge the death of Alexander and his family. Because of the historical importance of this sequence of events, the Daughters of the American Revolution have now established a Cavett Station Chapter, to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism (additional information about Cavett Station can be found on the DAR webpage).

In 1798, a legal agreement was consummated regarding the disposition of Alexander Cavett's estate involving his brothers Moses , Richard and Michael Cavett. Alexander's 640 acre tract along what was then known as Sinking Creek was inherited by these sons and ultimately Moses acquired and lived on this land with his wife, Agnes, until his death in 1801 at the age of 60 years. In January of 1802, his Will was produced in court for probate and Agnes was appointed Executrix. An extensive inventory of his assets has been documented and recorded in Knox County , Tennessee Estate Book.

 

*This information was compiled on 27 May 2008 by Jay Mayne Lewallen, Moses Cavett's 5 th great grandson, with reference to documents by Howard A. Roach of Dallas , TX .

 

 

     

     
     

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